Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2022-332
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2022-332
 
10 Nov 2022
10 Nov 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Mammals in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone’s Red Forest: a motion activated camera trap study

Nicholas A. Beresford1,3, Sergii Gashchak2, Michael D. Wood3, and Catherine L. Barnett1 Nicholas A. Beresford et al.
  • 1UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA11 4AP, UK
  • 2Chornobyl Center for Nuclear Safety, Radioactive Waste & Radioecology, International Radioecology Laboratory, 77th Gvardiiska Dyviiya Str.11, P.O. Box 151, 07100 Slavutych, Kyiv Region, Ukraine
  • 3School of Science, Engineering & Environment, University of Salford, Manchester, M5 4WT, UK

Abstract. Since the accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 there have been few studies published on medium/large mammals inhabiting the area from which the human population was removed (now referred to as the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone). The dataset presented in this paper describes a motion activated camera trap study (n=21 cameras) conducted from September 2016–September 2017 in the Red Forest located within the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. The Red Forest, which is likely the most anthropogenically contaminated radioactive terrestrial ecosystem on earth, suffered a severe wildfire in July 2016. The motion activated trap cameras were therefore in place as the Red Forest recovered from the wildfire. A total of 45859 images were captured and of these 19391 contained identifiable species or organism types (e.g. insects). A total of 14 mammal species were positively identified together with 23 species of birds (though birds were not a focus of the study).

Weighted absorbed radiation dose rate rates were estimated for mammals across the different camera trap locations; the number of species observed did not vary with estimated dose rate. We also observed no relationship between estimated weighted absorbed radiation dose rates and the number of triggering events for the four main species observed during the study (Brown hare, Eurasian elk, Red deer, Roe deer).

The data presented will be of value to those studying wildlife within the CEZ both from the perspectives of the potential effects of radiation on wildlife and also rewilding in this large, abandoned area. They may also have value in any future studies investigating the impacts of the recent Russian military action in the CEZ.

The data and supporting documentation are freely available from the Environmental Information Data Centre (EIDC) under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence: https://doi.org/10.5285/bf82cec2-5f8a-407c-bf74-f8689ca35e83 (Barnett et al. 2022a).

Nicholas A. Beresford et al.

Status: open (until 05 Jan 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-332', Anonymous Referee #1, 23 Nov 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2022-332', Anonymous Referee #2, 25 Nov 2022 reply

Nicholas A. Beresford et al.

Nicholas A. Beresford et al.

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Short summary
Camera traps were established in a highly contaminated area of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) to capture images of mammals. Over 1 year, 14 mammal species were recorded. The number of species observed did not vary with estimated radiation exposure. The data will be of value from the perspectives of effects of radiation on wildlife and also rewilding in this large abandoned area. They may also have value in future studies investigating impacts of recent Russian military action in the CEZ.